I find that a bit more exciting than having King Abdullah transit past. But, only slightly so.
President Obama will be in Riyadh on 3 June. It’s in all the papers here, and folks are anticipating his arrival with great interest. I went to a function at the American Embassy last night, and while waiting in line to get inside, members of the advance team arrived in black SUVs and unmarked bobtail trucks. They didn’t show up all together, but in groupings – most likely a sensible security measure.
Unfortunately, foreign dignitaries tend arrive around the time I leave work. The traffic is bad at that point anyway – a city with a population slightly less than LA and much less infrastructure – and the arrival of the US President only exacerbates the situation. I commented on this when President Bush visited in January 2007.
Still, as an expat, it’s kind of cool when your own national leader is in the same country as you are. And, like in the US and Europe, Obama is quite popular throughout Asia, especially in the Middle East. Again, it’s the hope that things will be different under his administration than under the previous one. Not everyone sees it this way, but that is the prevailing point of view. I’ll try to monitor the local papers and see what is said in them about the visit.
Any way it goes, I guess I’ll be taking the back route to the compound on Wednesday.